The LED is not the only
game in town, but it will likely become the new
standard. Calculating market share based on lumen-hour sales,
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) predicted LEDs will
achieve a share of 10 percent by 2015, 36 percent by 2020, 59
percent by 2025 and 74 percent by 2030. By then, LED general
lighting will have achieved efficacies as high as 200 lumens per
watt, according to the DOE.
However, the organic LED (OLED) is another technology to watch. It’s about seven years behind LEDs and must
achieve significant improvements in performance and cost
to find applications where it will present superior value. The
technology offers a great deal of potential as a complementary
source to LEDs, and it is particularly suited to area lighting and
new applications defined by unique form factors.
Other solid-state lighting technologies may emerge and
find their application. For example, plasma has carved out a
share in high-bay lighting. However, defeating the LED as a
general light source on the basis of efficiency and service life
alone will be difficult.
What if the source consumed no energy and never failed?
Improvements in glazing and daylight delivery systems, backed
by revelations connecting light and health, may drive daylight
to the fore as a primary light source. Biology is another avenue
that could be more deeply explored, including light-emitting
microbes or genetically modified plants.
In short, LEDs may end up becoming the be-all of lighting
but, perhaps, not the end-all.
No. 3: Longer life cycles will disrupt the industry
The DOE predicts the average life of LED indoor luminaires will
increase 73,000-plus hours by 2020 and outdoor luminaires will
increase 68,000 hours by 2015. It remains unclear whether rated
life, which is based on lumen maintenance, will be achieved for
many products due to color shift and driver failure, which may
happen earlier than rated life. It’s safe to assume that, overall,
First is confusion among owners about when to replace
their lighting, as light output will simply fade. How will they
know when an installed product is no longer useful? In appli-
cations where light output—or brightness, in the case of exit
signs—is critical, owners will need to schedule some form
of testing to ensure lighting needs are continuing to be met.
Therefore, maintenance may involve spot-checking light levels
and observing color shift, though luminaire cleaning will be just
as important as it is now. Alternatively, products may evolve to
include some type of indicator that signals actual or estimated
failure. Some products already offer this feature.
The next question is what the owner will actually be replacing. While some LED luminaires are field-serviceable, allowing
ongoing service and upgrades, a majority of them are not. When
the light source (or any other component, such as the driver)
fails, the luminaire fails. This is a cost that may surprise some
owners in the future. Many will be hesitant to dispose of a functional lamp or luminaire.
Long life will also affect manufacturers and distributors.
Navigant Consulting and other projections estimate lighting
industry revenues will begin to decline starting around 2017. As
maintenance shifts from ongoing lamp replacement to replacing luminaires every 10–20-plus years, the maintenance, repair
and overhaul business is also expected to decline.
No. 4: Intelligence will be commonplace,
creating more responsive lighting
Meet the other lighting revolution—digital lighting control. As
digital devices, LEDs are easier to control than conventional
sources, and dimming capability is generally available at a lower
cost than with fluorescent. The primary driver for LED dimming may not ultimately be the incremental energy savings
offered, but the ability to affect constant light and color output
and extend product life.
Pairing LED lighting with digital control is an ideal combination, infusing intelligence into the luminaire. Luminaires can
be programmed to provide constant light and color output over
their rated life, extending service life and energy savings, while
ensuring consistent color quality. They will be able to recognize
individual users and provide custom lighting conditions. The ability to control color temperature and intensity is only now being
explored; however, it offers significant potential to transform
spaces and make them more versatile and personal.
69 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | OCT. 14 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
YOUR LIGHT IN A WORLD OF CHANGE